Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Research

Article
Effects of Basic Amino Acids and Their Derivatives on SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza-A Virus Infection
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1301; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13071301 - 04 Jul 2021
Abstract
Amino acids have been implicated with virus infection and replication. Here, we demonstrate the effects of two basic amino acids, arginine and lysine, and their ester derivatives on infection of two enveloped viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza A virus. We found that lysine and [...] Read more.
Amino acids have been implicated with virus infection and replication. Here, we demonstrate the effects of two basic amino acids, arginine and lysine, and their ester derivatives on infection of two enveloped viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza A virus. We found that lysine and its ester derivative can efficiently block infection of both viruses in vitro. Furthermore, the arginine ester derivative caused a significant boost in virus infection. Studies on their mechanism of action revealed that the compounds potentially disturb virus uncoating rather than virus attachment and endosomal acidification. Our findings suggest that lysine supplementation and the reduction of arginine-rich food intake can be considered as prophylactic and therapeutic regimens against these viruses while also providing a paradigm for the development of broad-spectrum antivirals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Agents)
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Article
Molecular Evolution and Epidemiological Characteristics of SARS COV-2 in (Northwestern) Poland
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1295; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13071295 - 02 Jul 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) evolved into a worldwide outbreak, with the first Polish cases in February/March 2020. This study aimed to investigate the molecular epidemiology of the circulating virus lineages between March 2020 and February 2021. We performed [...] Read more.
The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) evolved into a worldwide outbreak, with the first Polish cases in February/March 2020. This study aimed to investigate the molecular epidemiology of the circulating virus lineages between March 2020 and February 2021. We performed variant identification, spike mutation pattern analysis, and phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses for 1106 high-coverage whole-genome sequences, implementing maximum likelihood, multiple continuous-time Markov chain, and Bayesian birth–death skyline models. For time trends, logistic regression was used. In the dataset, virus B.1.221 lineage was predominant (15.37%), followed by B.1.258 (15.01%) and B.1.1.29 (11.48%) strains. Three clades were identified, being responsible for 74.41% of infections over the analyzed period. Expansion in variant diversity was observed since September 2020 with increasing frequency of the number in spike substitutions, mainly H69V70 deletion, P681H, N439K, and S98F. In population dynamics inferences, three periods with exponential increase in infection were observed, beginning in March, July, and September 2020, respectively, and were driven by different virus clades. Additionally, a notable increase in infections caused by the B.1.1.7 lineage since February 2021 was noted. Over time, the virus accumulated mutations related to optimized transmissibility; therefore, faster dissemination is reflected by the second wave of epidemics in Poland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19)
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Article
A New Master Donor Virus for the Development of Live-Attenuated Influenza B Virus Vaccines
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1278; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13071278 - 30 Jun 2021
Abstract
Influenza B viruses (IBV) circulate annually, with young children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals being at high risk. Yearly vaccinations are recommended to protect against seasonally influenza viruses, including IBV. Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) provide the unique opportunity for direct exposure to [...] Read more.
Influenza B viruses (IBV) circulate annually, with young children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals being at high risk. Yearly vaccinations are recommended to protect against seasonally influenza viruses, including IBV. Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) provide the unique opportunity for direct exposure to the antigenically variable surface glycoproteins as well as the more conserved internal components. Ideally, LAIV Master Donor Viruses (MDV) should accurately reflect seasonal influenza strains. Unfortunately, the continuous evolution of IBV have led to significant changes in conserved epitopes compared to the IBV MDV based on B/Ann Arbor/1/1966 strain. Here, we propose a recent influenza B/Brisbane/60/2008 as an efficacious MDV alternative, as its internal viral proteins more accurately reflect those of circulating IBV strains. We introduced the mutations responsible for the temperature sensitive (ts), cold adapted (ca) and attenuated (att) phenotype of B/Ann Arbor/1/1966 MDV LAIV into B/Brisbane/60/2008 to generate a new MDV LAIV. In vitro and in vivo analysis demonstrated that the mutations responsible of the ts, ca, and att phenotype of B/Ann Arbor/1/1966 MDV LAIV were able to infer the same phenotype to B/Brisbane/60/2008, demonstrating its potential as a new MDV for the development of LAIV to protect against contemporary IBV strains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Viral Immunology, Vaccines, and Antivirals)
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Article
Modular Evolution of Coronavirus Genomes
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1270; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13071270 - 29 Jun 2021
Abstract
The viral family Coronaviridae comprises four genera, termed Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Deltacoronavirus. Recombination events have been described in many coronaviruses infecting humans and other animals. However, formal analysis of the recombination patterns, both in terms of the involved genome regions and [...] Read more.
The viral family Coronaviridae comprises four genera, termed Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Deltacoronavirus. Recombination events have been described in many coronaviruses infecting humans and other animals. However, formal analysis of the recombination patterns, both in terms of the involved genome regions and the extent of genetic divergence between partners, are scarce. Common methods of recombination detection based on phylogenetic incongruences (e.g., a phylogenetic compatibility matrix) may fail in cases where too many events diminish the phylogenetic signal. Thus, an approach comparing genetic distances in distinct genome regions (pairwise distance deviation matrix) was set up. In alpha, beta, and delta-coronaviruses, a low incidence of recombination between closely related viruses was evident in all genome regions, but it was more extensive between the spike gene and other genome regions. In contrast, avian gammacoronaviruses recombined extensively and exist as a global cloud of genes with poorly corresponding genetic distances in different parts of the genome. Spike, but not other structural proteins, was most commonly exchanged between coronaviruses. Recombination patterns differed between coronavirus genera and corresponded to the modular structure of the spike: recombination traces were more pronounced between spike domains (N-terminal and C-terminal parts of S1 and S2) than within domains. The variability of possible recombination events and their uneven distribution over the genome suggest that compatibility of genes, rather than mechanistic or ecological limitations, shapes recombination patterns in coronaviruses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recombination as an Evolutionary Force in Animal Viruses)
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Article
Tracking HIV-1-Infected Cell Clones Using Integration Site-Specific qPCR
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1235; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13071235 - 25 Jun 2021
Abstract
Efforts to cure HIV-1 infection require better quantification of the HIV-1 reservoir, particularly the clones of cells harboring replication-competent (intact) proviruses, termed repliclones. The digital droplet PCR assays commonly used to quantify intact proviruses do not differentiate among specific repliclones, thus the [...] Read more.
Efforts to cure HIV-1 infection require better quantification of the HIV-1 reservoir, particularly the clones of cells harboring replication-competent (intact) proviruses, termed repliclones. The digital droplet PCR assays commonly used to quantify intact proviruses do not differentiate among specific repliclones, thus the dynamics of repliclones are not well defined. The major challenge in tracking repliclones is the relative rarity of the cells carrying specific intact proviruses. To date, detection and accurate quantification of repliclones requires in-depth integration site sequencing. Here, we describe a simplified workflow using integration site-specific qPCR (IS-qPCR) to determine the frequencies of the proviruses integrated in individual repliclones. We designed IS-qPCR to determine the frequencies of repliclones and clones of cells that carry defective proviruses in samples from three donors. Comparing the results of IS-qPCR with deep integration site sequencing data showed that the two methods yielded concordant estimates of clone frequencies (r = 0.838). IS-qPCR is a potentially valuable tool that can be applied to multiple samples and cell types over time to measure the dynamics of individual repliclones and the efficacy of treatments designed to eliminate them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Viral Persistence)
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Article
Microglial HIV-1 Expression: Role in HIV-1 Associated Neurocognitive Disorders
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 924; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050924 - 17 May 2021
Abstract
The persistence of HIV-1 viral reservoirs in the brain, despite treatment with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), remains a critical roadblock for the development of a novel cure strategy for HIV-1. To enhance our understanding of viral reservoirs, two complementary studies were conducted to [...] Read more.
The persistence of HIV-1 viral reservoirs in the brain, despite treatment with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), remains a critical roadblock for the development of a novel cure strategy for HIV-1. To enhance our understanding of viral reservoirs, two complementary studies were conducted to (1) evaluate the HIV-1 mRNA distribution pattern and major cell type expressing HIV-1 mRNA in the HIV-1 transgenic (Tg) rat, and (2) validate our findings by developing and critically testing a novel biological system to model active HIV-1 infection in the rat. First, a restricted, region-specific HIV-1 mRNA distribution pattern was observed in the HIV-1 Tg rat. Microglia were the predominant cell type expressing HIV-1 mRNA in the HIV-1 Tg rat. Second, we developed and critically tested a novel biological system to model key aspects of HIV-1 by infusing F344/N control rats with chimeric HIV (EcoHIV). In vitro, primary cultured microglia were treated with EcoHIV revealing prominent expression within 24 h of infection. In vivo, EcoHIV expression was observed seven days after stereotaxic injections. Following EcoHIV infection, microglia were the major cell type expressing HIV-1 mRNA, results that are consistent with observations in the HIV-1 Tg rat. Within eight weeks of infection, EcoHIV rats exhibited neurocognitive impairments and synaptic dysfunction, which may result from activation of the NogoA-NgR3/PirB-RhoA signaling pathway and/or neuroinflammation. Collectively, these studies enhance our understanding of HIV-1 viral reservoirs in the brain and offer a novel biological system to model HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and associated comorbidities (i.e., drug abuse) in rats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Neurovirology)
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Article
Global Metabolic Profiling of Baculovirus Infection in Silkworm Hemolymph Shows the Importance of Amino-Acid Metabolism
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 841; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050841 - 06 May 2021
Abstract
Viruses rely on host cell metabolism to provide the necessary energy and biosynthetic precursors for successful viral replication. Infection of the silkworm, Bombyx mori, by Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV), has been studied extensively in the past to unravel interactions between baculoviruses and [...] Read more.
Viruses rely on host cell metabolism to provide the necessary energy and biosynthetic precursors for successful viral replication. Infection of the silkworm, Bombyx mori, by Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV), has been studied extensively in the past to unravel interactions between baculoviruses and their lepidopteran hosts. To understand the interaction between the host metabolic responses and BmNPV infection, we analyzed global metabolic changes associated with BmNPV infection in silkworm hemolymph. Our metabolic profiling data suggests that amino acid metabolism is strikingly altered during a time course of BmNPV infection. Amino acid consumption is increased during BmNPV infection at 24 h post infection (hpi), but their abundance recovered at 72 hpi. Central carbon metabolism, on the other hand, particularly glycolysis and glutaminolysis, did not show obvious changes during BmNPV infection. Pharmacologically inhibiting the glycolytic pathway and glutaminolysis also failed to reduce BmNPV replication, revealing that glycolysis and glutaminolysis are not essential during BmNPV infection. This study reveals a unique amino acid utilization process that is implemented during BmNPV infection. Our metabolomic analysis of BmNPV-infected silkworm provides insights as to how baculoviruses induce alterations in host metabolism during systemic infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Insect Viruses)
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Article
Semipersistently Transmitted, Phloem Limited Plant Viruses Are Inoculated during the First Subphase of Intracellular Stylet Penetrations in Phloem Cells
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 137; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13010137 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The green peach aphid Myzus persicae Sulzer is the main vector of the semipersistently transmitted and phloem-limited Beet yellows virus (BYV, Closterovirus). Studies monitoring the M. persicae probing behavior by using the Electrical penetration graphs (EPG) technique revealed that inoculation of BYV [...] Read more.
The green peach aphid Myzus persicae Sulzer is the main vector of the semipersistently transmitted and phloem-limited Beet yellows virus (BYV, Closterovirus). Studies monitoring the M. persicae probing behavior by using the Electrical penetration graphs (EPG) technique revealed that inoculation of BYV occurs during unique brief intracellular punctures (phloem-pds) produced in companion and/or sieve element cells. Intracellular stylet punctures (or pds) are subdivided in three subphases (II-1, II-2 and II-3), which have been related to the delivery or uptake of non-phloem limited viruses transmitted in a non-persistent or semipersistent manner. As opposed to non-phloem limited viruses, the specific pd subphase(s) involved in the successful delivery of phloem limited viruses by aphids remain unknown. Therefore, we monitored the feeding process of BYV-carrying M. persicae individuals in sugar beet plants by the EPG technique and the feeding process was artificially terminated at each phloem-pd subphase. Results revealed that aphids that only performed the subphase II-1 of the phloem-pd transmitted BYV at similar efficiency than those allowed to perform subphase II-2 or the complete phloem-pd. This result suggests that BYV inoculation occurs during the first subphase of the phloem-pd. The specific transmission mechanisms involved in BYV delivery in phloem cells are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Closteroviridae)
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Communication
The Anticoagulant Nafamostat Potently Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 S Protein-Mediated Fusion in a Cell Fusion Assay System and Viral Infection In Vitro in a Cell-Type-Dependent Manner
Viruses 2020, 12(6), 629; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v12060629 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 76
Abstract
Although infection by SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of coronavirus pneumonia disease (COVID-19), is spreading rapidly worldwide, no drug has been shown to be sufficiently effective for treating COVID-19. We previously found that nafamostat mesylate, an existing drug used for disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), [...] Read more.
Although infection by SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of coronavirus pneumonia disease (COVID-19), is spreading rapidly worldwide, no drug has been shown to be sufficiently effective for treating COVID-19. We previously found that nafamostat mesylate, an existing drug used for disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), effectively blocked Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) S protein-mediated cell fusion by targeting transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), and inhibited MERS-CoV infection of human lung epithelium-derived Calu-3 cells. Here we established a quantitative fusion assay dependent on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) S protein, angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and TMPRSS2, and found that nafamostat mesylate potently inhibited the fusion while camostat mesylate was about 10-fold less active. Furthermore, nafamostat mesylate blocked SARS-CoV-2 infection of Calu-3 cells with an effective concentration (EC)50 around 10 nM, which is below its average blood concentration after intravenous administration through continuous infusion. On the other hand, a significantly higher dose (EC50 around 30 μM) was required for VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells, where the TMPRSS2-independent but cathepsin-dependent endosomal infection pathway likely predominates. Together, our study shows that nafamostat mesylate potently inhibits SARS-CoV-2 S protein-mediated fusion in a cell fusion assay system and also inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro in a cell-type-dependent manner. These findings, together with accumulated clinical data regarding nafamostat’s safety, make it a likely candidate drug to treat COVID-19. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathogenesis of Human and Animal Coronaviruses)
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